AZMIN ALI

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Day: August 19, 2010

UMNO shoving press freedom to the gallows

By Mohamed Azmin Ali

19 August – If recent poll numbers are anything to go by, it indicates that the mainstream medialack credibility and the public’s increasing thirst for alternative news.

UMNO’s allergy to dissent is highlighted by no other than Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein who couldn’t have picked a better time to reaffirm what most informed Malaysians are already aware of.

By stressing that the media should heed to the ‘government aspiration of the 1Malaysia concept’, Hishamuddin has officially nailed UMNO in its coffin.

Such obstinate statements heaped on to the already dented image of the mainstream media following the historic political tsunami of March ’08.

On the other hand, the 1Malaysia aspiration seem to be lost on UMNO-controlled Utusan Malaysia that thrives on extreme racial undertone polarizing the communities even further.

All these are carried out when Najib Razak’s government is desperate to present his ‘aspiration’ to the people.

Apco must have been doing a woeful job with their RM77 million contract to repair the government’s image with sub-standard messaging and policies lacking in substance.

With regards to the media’s role, be it mainstream or alternative, they should be reporting the truth without fear or favour.

Media should refrain from being used as a tool promoting cheap political agenda and unbiased reporting is vital for a more vibrant press in the country.

Media freedom will almost never happen under the UMNO-BN leadership that constantly and perhaps interminably interfere its editorial content.

Can the media be nothing else than the mouthpiece for the government’s political agenda?

The constraints on media freedom do not end there, as PKR’s owned publication Suara Keadilan had become the latest victim of this modern style oppression and slavery.

The Printing Presses and Publications Act is another draconian act that allows the government to silence and even to the extent of shutting down media organization not in line with the government.

Worse still, the government has been known to withdraw publishers licenses indefinitely resulting in a floodgate of repercussions, where violaters risk arrest.

UMNO-BN arrogantly justifies this by insisting that freedom has its limits in order to preserve racial and religious harmony, the two key taboo terms in Malaysian politics.

But where do we, as politicians from both of the divide draw the line? How would that be even possible if media freedom, in the country, is a double-edged sword?

If the stranglehold on media freedom continues, it would be like sending democracy to the gallows where its head would be chopped off, halting the breath of liberty